Hearst’s Digital Mailbox Service Manilla to Close

Matt Swain
May 12, 2014

On the heels of last month’s news that Zumbox would be shuttering its operations, now Hearst Corporation’s competitive digital mailbox service has made a similar announcement. Here is the message that Manilla users received over the weekend:

Manilla is giving users until September 30, 2014 to get their content out of the service–notably more than what Zumbox offered–but Manilla is also supporting a larger user base and document archive, with around 1 million user accounts and probably in excess of 20 million user bills and statements stored in their archives.

These announcements coming back-to-back is significant, as it will negatively impact the consolidation channel as a whole. They serve as an “I told you so” for companies that have been skeptical about delivering their communications to standalone digital mailbox services and make other companies reconsider why they were looking at these services as a distribution channel to increase paper turnoff in the first place. In turn, it will mean that executive teams of competitive services will need to build the case for “here’s why we are different” and “this is why you should deliver communications through us.” While this is not an impossible task–and I still see opportunity in the channel–it is the result of an unfortunate series of events that will disrupt market progress.

In my last post, I noted that we are seeing a market shift from standalone services to attempts to reach consumers at digital destinations they already frequent. Manilla had even tried this approachthrough its partnership with AOL, showing the opportunity to partner with e-mail service providers. While Manilla experienced an increase in users from the AOL deal, one challenge was that they had not convinced enough businesses to pay Manilla to deliver the content (and increase paper turnoff). With a business model dependent on the senders of communications versus the recipients, Manilla appears to have just run out of time.

Even so, I expect that Manilla’s assets (e.g., users, development team, technology platform) will be a highly desirable acquisition for an opportunistic bank, eCommerce provider, or competitive new entrant.

Wishing the Manilla team all the best in their next endeavors.

 

Matt Swain
Director, Advisory Services:

Customer Communications Channels & Trends
Document Outsourcing

@SwainfoTrends

InfoTrends tracks the customer communications delivery and payment markets via studies like our recently-published study entitled The Future of Multi-channel Transactional Communications, as well as via our Customer Communications Channels & Trends advisory service.

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